The London Plan Does not Have to be Sound – So How will the Overspill Impass be Solved?

Last month NLP published a fascinating report on how the overspill from London might be met.

The number of houses that could therefore be exported across the South East from London over the next 10 years.. is between 70,000 and 200,000.

“This will necessitate LPAs that have a relationship with London’s housing market to plan for both their own needs as well as additional overspill from London.

“This is not something the GLA appears to have properly addressed, and the FALP does not deal with the issue.

“This, and the failure of the FALP to include a green belt review, is a significant omission that means the FALP is unsound.

There are a few problems with this.  Legally any plan (and the London plan is an SDS not a local plan) can only deal with proposals in their area. Though they can suggest overspill outside it.  Secondly the legislation covering the London plan is pre 2004.  That means it does not have top be sound. The Mayor has the power to reject panel recommendations unless the SoS uses reserve powers.  Thirdly of course under the ‘Boles doctrine’   the panel could only politely suggest a Green Belt review.  Which the Mayor of course would reject.

So how will the impasse be resolved?  The Mayor is covered by the DTC.  But providing they suggest what the overspill need is and engage constrictively he has met the duty.  Of course this just screws up dozens of plans in the ROSE (rest of South East) area.   So what to do?  London might be aboe to take some more.  But there will likely still be an overspill the scale of housing need is so great.  The SoS might also find themselves in a vulnerable position. Lets say the FALP panel recommends a limited Green Belt review in low amenity areas of the Metropolitan Green Belt close to public transport. Not a big source of supply as we have demonstrated on here before but a probable panel result. Lets say the Mayor rejects this and the SoS does not intervene.  This would then shoft 35,000 or so extra houses to the ROSE  area requiring further Green Belt releases outside London. Lets say then the SoS does not intervene.  This would leave the SoS vulnerable to JR as the sites outside London might be more important for Green Belt purposes less accessible and of greater Landscape value.  As recent debates in the West Midlands have demonstrated the issue of harm to the Green Belt is of which sites are least sensitive irrespective of which authpority they are in. Witness Cannock Chases letter to Brum. Hence any failure of the Mayor to conduct a Green Belt review and move to adopt the London Plan against a panel recommendation could lead to a coordinated JR from dozens of ROSE authorities.  Which would be interesting as the SDS legislation is so old and no longer fit for purpose.

Ok rather than everyone JRing the hell out of each other (conveniently after the next election when Paxo might be taking over from Boris) will sense prevail?  Boris might have the courage to commission the kind of quasi regional planning report as Birmingham have done suggesting where the overspill might go.  Unlikely Central Government would lean on him not to especially before an election.  ROSE authorities might do the same, even more unlikely why should Turkeys vote for Christmas? The only party whicch might would be the SOS which under this government is unlikely.

So what is the most likely outcome? Under the DTC authorities outside the Metropolitan Green Belt and inside London’s commuting range, like East Herts and East Cambs, will get crushed, at EIP and on appeal.  Eventually they might go for Garden Cities but given the London lead in time they would still get crushed on appeal for the next 10 years. Authorities wasjed over by the Me Green Belt, like Brentwood.  They have no incentive to put forward a local plan at al given the Pickles doctrine that housing need is not a very special circumstance.   In all a very special mess that will take a decade to fix following five years without planning.  In the interim villages outside the Green Belt with services will be crushed by inappropriately sized estates.

One thought on “The London Plan Does not Have to be Sound – So How will the Overspill Impass be Solved?

  1. W
    Well done for raising this issue , but the Conservatives are not going to do anything in an election year to upset the core voters . They are doing absolutely nothing to push LPA’s to have an NPPF compliant plan . In Tandridge unfortunately had had a Public Inquiry adjourned until October , where the council did not put up the author of their OAN report GL Hearn as a witness and relied on a NIMBY group to question the methodology . The Inspector though would not have been impressed by the council admitting they had not done a single step to identifying their housing needs they accepted and are plainly deliberately delaying revising their Core Strategy as indeed are others such as Sevenoaks .
    The Conservatives are in my view making a mistake as housing has moved up the agenda , particularly in London and the South East and no amount of spin can alter the fact that Boris has failed to deliver the housing we need and LPA’s are hiding behind the Green Belt to avoid upsetting the well heeled locals .

    If those who have not got a home rise up and vote , it will impact the Conservatives ability win the 40 swing seats they need .

    We are likely to get another coalition , where perhaps Vince Cable will have his way and release areas of the Green Belt . It is such an out of date policy and out of step with the demands of London. It amazes me why the MP’s outside of the Green Belt taking more and more inward migration are not querying why Boris is not meeting his needs .

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